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Poster: HappySwordsman Date: Jul 13, 2012 9:29pm
Forum: classic_tv Subject: Oldest surviving US examples of television genres (drama, sitcom, documentary, game show, etc)

There are some surviving fragments from 1947, but the oldest complete episodes of US television series come from 1948.

This list was compiled by searching through the databases of the Library of Congress, Paley Center for Media, UCLA Film and Television Archive and Museum of Broadcast Communications.

Oldest surviving complete episode of a US television program (also oldest surviving episode of a documentary series):
"Eye Witness" - 28 February 1948 (aired on NBC)

Oldest surviving episode of an entertainment series (also oldest surviving example of television drama, and oldest surviving example of an anthology series):
"Kraft Television Theatre" - 3 March 1948

Oldest surviving episode of a music series:
"NBC Symphony Orchestra with Arturo Toscanini" - 20 March 1948 (techically, this was a series of specials that aired for several years)

Oldest surviving episode of a variety series:
"The Swift Show" - 13 May 1948

Oldest surviving episode of a sports-themed series:
"Swing Into Sports" - 29 August 1948 (possibly earliest surviving DuMont episode? Was this series network or local?)

Oldest surviving episode of a children's series:
"Puppet Playhouse Presents Howdy Doody" - possibly 13 September 1948, however, it seems an episode from July 1948 survives and can be downloaded from this section.

Oldest surviving CBS TV episode:
"Lucky Pup" - 19 October 1948

Oldest surviving examples of a WW2-themed series:
"Operation Success" - 2 episodes from 1948, exact airdates unconfirmed

Oldest surviving ABC TV episode (also possibly oldest surviving example of nostalgia-themed programming):
"The Gay Nineties Revue" - 1 episode from 1948, exact air date unknown, can be downloaded from this section

Oldest live series for which the majority episodes produced still survive:
"Admiral Broadway Revue" - 19 episodes of this NBC series were aired between January 28, 1949 and June 3, 1949, of which at least 16 episodes survive, maybe as many as 18.

The second oldest is possibly the DuMont Network version of "The Morey Amsterdam Show", which aired from 21 April 1949 to 12 October 1950. Of these episodes, 71 are known to survive (ignore Wikipedia, they are wrong about the number of episodes this series aired for).

Oldest surviving US newscast:
"NBC Newsroom Chicago" - 17 March 1949, and can be downloaded from this section

Oldest surviving game show episode:
"Americana" from 14 March 1949

Oldest surviving episode of a reality TV series:
"Candid Camera" from 29 May 1949

Oldest surviving sitcom episode:
"Mary Kay and Johnny" - 13 June 1949 (DuMont's "The Growing Paynes" has 2 to 4 surviving episodes, which may have aired earlier)

Oldest date for which each of the four US networks is represented by at least 1 surviving episode:
Possibly 22 September 1949, with "The Morey Amsterdam Show" (DuMont, kinescope), "Fireball Fun-for-all" (NBC, kinescope), "The Lone Ranger" (ABC, film), "Crusade in Europe" (ABC, film) and "The Ed Wynn Show" (CBS, kinescope) each have a surviving episode from that date.

I wonder if anyone could compile a similar list for British television series.

This post was modified by The_Emperor_Of_Television on 2012-07-13 10:02:53

This post was modified by The_Emperor_Of_Television on 2012-07-13 10:06:56

This post was modified by The_Emperor_Of_Television on 2012-07-14 04:29:19